La Fitness - Where's the transparency on membership costs?
On June 14, 2013, I visited LA Fitness in Allentown, PA, on a 3 day trial guest pass - which I obtained online from their site.The club is beautiful - every one is very nice and customer focused.
Of course, I met with the general manager who proposed a family membership (4 people) for an initiation fee of $99 plus $84/month after that. I wasn't sold on the financial commitment (we use Planet Fitness for $10-20/month). I had a good workout - and returned on Saturday, June 15 for a second trial day. On Saturday, the general manager again reviewed the same deal - writing some numbers on a piece of paper (like a used car salesman) and then sending me off to do my cardio followed by an initial meeting with a Personal Trainer.
The trainer cinched the deal for me. He not only was extremely knowledgeable and professional, but put me right at ease in developing a strategy that would achieve my goals without making me look like a wimp. I was inspired. Before parting, the general manager said to me, "So,you'll be in tomorrow then to join?" I said yes, I would.
Upon returning on Sunday, June 16th, I described the deal to the person in charge that day. And he could not find that deal on the computer. He made a few phone calls - but ended up being told that he had to offer me a plan with a $149 initiation fee and $89.95/month -- essentially a 30% increase in the initation fee and the first year's cost. I called LA Fitness's corporate headquarters the next business day (Monday, June 17th) and was told that prices are subject to change at anytime -- most often the first of the month or (coincidentally!
the 16th of the month. To make up for the difference in cost, the club offered me the ability to bring a 5th family member to the gym for "free" for 6 months. But - let's be real-- who does THAT benefit? LA FITNESS.
Naturally, if I bring a fifth person, that person will also want to join and LA Fitness will ultimately sell THAT person a membership. I later learned that the reps at the LA Fitness gyms earn a commission from the initiation fees. That sounds reasonable on the surface. But isn't it an enticement to do anything and everything possible -- ethical or not -- to acquire memberships?
In my case, they didn't see this as a big dollar difference and believed they had me convinced of their value. All of which is true. However, they broke the "Trust factor" in our business relationship - so I walked away and did not join. For every one of ME that walks away, there are likely 10 others that pay the difference.
I'm not buying a car. I'm committing to a healthy lifestyle with the gym as my partner.
And I'm not going to commit to shelling out money to a shady organization no more than I would commit to financing my car thru some uncertified financing organization.